Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Police chief seeks an extra £200m to tackle dissidents

PSNI chief Matt Baggott

Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable has warned that securing an extra £200m from the Treasury is vital for the fight against dissident republican terrorism.

Matt Baggott’s warning comes after another two security alerts in north Belfast yesterday.

The Government is currently considering an application from the police chief to supplement the PSNI’s budget after the Executive said it needed to deliver around £135m in efficiency savings over the next four years.

Mr Baggott said this represented a “very real” and “sustained” challenge for policing, but one that it had to “tackle head on”.

He explained that while overall crime levels had decreased in the past year, the dissident threat was still “severe”.

In an effort to tackle the problem, Mr Baggott has asked the Government for additional funding — the second time the PSNI has gone to the Treasury.

For the past two years the police service has been receiving financial support from the Treasury to deal with Northern Ireland’s terrorism threat. Mr Baggott is hoping for the same commitment over the next four years.

“We have a big ask over the next four years but we will make that happen,” he said, following the monthly meeting of the Policing Board yesterday. “I do need to have additional support to tackle the terrorist problem.

“This is a very, very real and sustained challenge to the political process and it’s one that we have to tackle head on. We have, over the last two years, received support from the Treasury as a measure of that additional threat. I am asking for that to be sustained over the next four years.”

Mr Baggott appeared optimistic that his request would be granted.

“We made a very reasonable and a very reasoned argument. That has been received very sympathetically at the highest levels of Government,” he said.

“I am waiting to see when and how that money will come, but the case has been very well made.”

But securing extra money is not the only key in the fight against dissidents, Mr Baggott said. Changing the mindsets of those who set out to kill and harm police officers is also important.

“We have said for a long time that the problem is severe and sadly the ideology that violence is a way to achieve results remains strong in some places,” he added.

“Ultimately, these people have to be persuaded in their own communities, by their own families.”

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